Vanuatu Tourism Ambassadors To Improve Visitor Experience

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Program seeks to raise tourism ‘to another level’

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 8, 2014) – Since tourism is everyone’s business, the Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme is to be carried out by all stakeholders and newly appointed ‘Ambassadors’ to improve the experience of international visitors to the country by taking it to another level.

The call was made with confidence by the Minister for Trade and Tourism, Willie Jimmy, Director of Tourism Development, George Borugu and New Zealand High Commission Development Counsellor, Mikaela Nyman when the Ambassador Programme Office was launched in the Department of Trade Building last Friday.

The National Coordinator of the Ambassador Programme is Adela Aru whose office is expected to recruit about seven members of staff in the long run.

In his welcome address, Chairman of Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador, Committee Borugu, said his committee has already identified 100 mamas of Mama Markets, 100 taxis and buses and Port Vila City Ambassadors who are information officers in the city and at the wharf and at the airport to deal with all new arrivals as well as regulars to make them want to return to the country.

The Chairman thanked the Director General of Trade and Director of Trade for accommodating the new office in the Department of Trade Building due to lack of space in his own Department.

He thanked the outgoing New Zealand High Commissioner Bill Dobbie for recognising the importance of the programme and agreeing to fund the current pilot project for ten months.

Minister Jimmy said, "This programme is very important to the tourism sector and country because it will contribute to improving the customer relations and services of people who have a direct face to face contact with international visitors.

"This will contribute further to enhancing the Vanuatu Smile and friendliness of the people of this country and take tourism to another level. This elevation to another level is very important because of the competitiveness of tourism in the Region and the world. So it is always beneficial to invest public resources to something that will nationally benefit the country and help people".

The Minister used the opportunity to add, "I wish to thank the Government of New Zealand through the High Commission in Port Vila for your generous contribution and continuous support and assistance to the Government of Vanuatu to the Tourism Sector. On that note I would like to say that I look forward to the signing of the memorandum of understanding that will establish the Project Management Unit and funding for the implementation of the Vanuatu Strategic Tourism Action Plan and hope that we can conclude this as soon as possible".

In her response, Development Counsellor Mikaela Nyman of the New Zealand High Commissioner said, "This Office is very important, it will be the hub of the Tourism Ambassador Programme. People will know where to go to find Adela who is our National Coordinator and Administration support are located, and where participant registration will take place (taxi and bus drivers).

"The last time we came together for the Ambassador Programme in a formal setting was for the launch of the Programme at Seafront Stage in August of last year."

Since then so much has happened but there is still much work to be done. In particular they are looking forward to seeing the training of pilot participants get under way in the next couple of months.

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